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Pika Facts

Scientific NameOchotona Minor
Size18-22cm (7-9in)
Weight75-290g (2.6-10oz)
Top Speed24km/h (15mph)
Lifespan3-6 years
Conservation StatusLeast Concern
ColourBlack, Brown, Grey, White, Tan
Skin TypeFur
Favourite FoodGrasses
HabitatMountainous areas
Average Litter Size3
Main PreyGrasses, Weeds, Thistles
PredatorsWeasel, Eagle, Dogs
Special FeaturesSmall body size and no tail

Pika Location

Map of Pika Locations


Parts of the Northern Hemisphere are home to the Pika. Even though they resemble a rat, their closest relatives in the animal kingdom are hares and rabbits. One of the ways you can tell you are looking at a Pika is that they don't have tails. Their bodies are small and round.

At Rocky Mountain National Park, Pika live up high in the trees. The park is one of the few places on Earth where two subspecies of the animal are found. One of those species calls the southern hemisphere home while the other one calls the northern hemisphere home.


Four Pika Top Facts

  • The American Pika represents climate change
  • Pika is closely related to the rabbit
  • Pika prefers solitude to company
  • They warn each other of predators nearby

Pika Scientific Name

The scientific name of the Pika is Ochotona Minor. It is part of the Mammalia class and the Ochotinade family. American Pika are a part of the lagomorph group and are also its smallest members.

The word Pika dates back to the years between 1820 and 1830. A German naturalist used it to describe the noise made by the Russian Pika, which means to squeak. Since Pika make a sound that is shrill, the word is used to describe the animal.


Pika Appearance & Behavior

A Pika's body is small and short. It has large, round ears. The average Pika is seven or eight inches long. In comparison, a bowling pin is twice as tall as a Pika. They weigh between 2.6 oz and 10 ounces, making them about the same weight as a hamster.

Either black or brown in color, a Pika has thick fur so that they don't get cold during the winter months. The dark color of their fur helps them blend in with the rocks found in their natural surroundings.

When the weather warms up a Pika's coat of fur thins out so they don't get too hot in the sun. However, in extreme heat, their fur is still thick enough that they may suffer.

Pika live close to each other and in colonies. Within their colonies, each one has its own den. They warn each other if a predator is nearby and alert each other by whistling. This is the reason that Pika have large ears.


Pika Habitat

There are only certain places in the world where you can find a Pika. They are found in a few places in Europe, Asia, and North America.  Mountain meadows are generally located close to where Pika live, as they often live on cliffs.

Some Pika live at low altitude, like those living in California's Lava Bed National Monument. Other states the Pika lives in are:

  • New Mexico
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Wyoming
  • Utah
  • Colorado
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Idaho

Pika can also be found in Western Canada.

Pika (Ochotona Minor) standing on a rock looking super cute

Pika Diet

Pika are herbivores so their diet consists mainly of vegetables. During the day they will hunt for berries and seeds, but also thistles, grass, and weeds. Living in places with rocky mountain formations they collect food over the summer so that they aren't hungry all winter.

Pika Predators & Threats

Since they are so small Pika like to live away from other animals. But they are still vulnerable to predators. Weasels are their most common threat. Others include cats, birds of prey, foxes, eagles, coyotes, and dogs.

It isn't just predators that are a threat to the Pika. Increasingly warm weather is decreasing the Pika population. When the outside air temperature is 77 degrees Fahrenheit, Pika cannot survive longer than six hours. They are in danger of becoming extinct if the world continues to get warmer.


Pika Reproduction, Babies and Lifespan

The breeding period for Pika takes place during the earliest part of the spring. It is not unusual for them to have another breeding period during the summer. When they are ready to breed, a Pika animal will stay in one territory and another Pika animal will be in another territory. The two Pika will call to each other, which starts the process of breeding.

Pika carry babies inside them for one month before the babies are born. The average size of a litter of Pika is three. However, they may only have two babies or they may have as many as six.

For the first month of a Pika's life, they must remain with their mother. By the time they are three months old, they are considered an adult. When they become one year old, they are old enough to breed. The average lifespan of Pika rodents is six years. However, due to circumstances out of their control some only live for half that amount of time.


Pika Population

Because of global warming animal activists have been trying to get Pika declared in danger of extinction. As of 2020, this has not happened. Pika used to live in 29 different places all over California. Now they only live in 11 of those 29 places. This has caused concern among those who are interested in their well being.

Pika used to live in Zion National Park in Utah, but can no longer be found there. While some do still live in The Great Basin (located between Wasatch Mountains, in Utah, and both the Cascade Mountains and the Sierra Nevadas), a study showed that there was 44% less Pika in that area than there used to be. In both Nevada and Oregon, the Pika population is believed to be only 1/3 of what it previously was.



Are Pika Dangerous?

Since PIka are not domesticated animals it is not safe to hold them in captivity. They are not used to being near people. A Pika may react negatively when approached by a person.

Can You Get A Pika As A Pet?

No. Pika rodents are not an animal that should be kept as a pet. They need to live in certain conditions that cannot be provided by living in a home with people. A better choice in pets would be an animal related to a Pika, such as a rabbit. 

Are Pika Rodents?

As a member of the lagomorph group, a Pika is not a rodent even though many people feel it looks like one. It is a small animal that thrives in conditions rodents do not live in.